Top Chef All Stars Recap
By Jason Lee
December 23, 2010
We rejoin the “all-stars” pubbing it up at a bar. Casey is still expressing surprise that Dale was sent home, widening her eyes and raising the pitch of her voice ever-so-slightly. Tiffani is determined not to be in the bottom again - I sentiment I definitely share. With Jen gone, Tiffani must now carry the “strong women chef” mantle for the show. Last week’s winner, Dale Talde, isn’t resting on his laurels, rightfully noting that any chef can get sent home in any challenge.
Meanwhile, Mike Isabella cites Angelo as his biggest competition. Sadly, I don’t disagree with his sentiment. Angelo is really showing that he’s a force to be reckoned with this season - though I wonder if this is largely due to the fact that he just finished Top Chef DC and is already acclimated to cooking with random time and arbitrary food limitations.
Speaking of limitations-for-the-sake-of-limitations, we’re off to our first Quickfire Challenge! In a bizarrely timed episode, the cheftestants will be making…stuffing? For some reason, I associate stuffing with Thanksgiving. Is that wrong? Do people also associate stuffing with Christmas? I dunno, seems weird to me.
But back to those limitations: the cheftestants will be making the best stuffing they possibly can, but will not be allowed to use any knives or cooking tools. Ew. As a self-professed neat freak (believe me, you should see my kitchen: it’s spotless), I can already tell that I’m not going to like this Quickfire.
Yep, I’m right. The chefs bolt en masse towards the refrigerators - it reminds me of a mob of teen girls at a Jonas Brothers concert. Or 40-year-old moms on Black Friday at 5:00 a.m.
And then, the disgusting part begins. Fabio starts grating cheese on some shelving (which, I’m sure, he didn’t wash). Carla opens up an onion by smashing it with the back of a skillet. Jaime is using a piece of pork as a spoon to stir her dish. It’s . . . pretty gross.
Usually, I understand the point of cooking limitations on Top Chef challenges - prove you can adapt, prove you know how to change a dish mid-stride, etc. But this? I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that almost all chefs in America have knives. And if they don’t, then they shouldn’t be grating cheese on a shelf so that they can serve their patrons.
Anyhow, Tony Montuano is the guest judge (also known as the sixth place loser on Top Chef: Masters season 2) and he picks Tiffani, Casey and Carla on the bottom of the Quickfire. Tiffani had made her mom’s soy/maple stuffing too sweet (“my mom’s gonna kill me,” she laments afterwards), Casey’s stuffing had looked more like a plated appetizer than stuffing, and Carla had obliviously integrated black quinoa into her dish before realizing that it wouldn’t be done in 45 minutes (she had described it as “un-done-te,” a play on en dente, to Chef Montuano).
On top is Tre, with a spicy but well-balanced stuffing, and Marcel, who had actually stuffed his stuffing in a squab. To no one’s surprise, Tre is named the chef that showed the most resourcefulness and best flavors, winning the Christmas-stuffing Quickfire and immunity.